By Sam Thiele, Monash University
The island of La Palma, in the Canary Archipelago (Spain), provides some of the most spectacular exposures of shallow volcanic plumbing systems in the world. Tens of thousands of dykes, sills and small magma chambers are exposed along 20 km of abrupt cliffs. These bound Caldera Taburiente, an arcuate depression cut by erosion to a depth of ~2 km into the heart of Volcán Taburiente following its dramatic collapse at ~550 ka.
Using recently developed drone mapping techniques, we can gain access to these impressive but difficult to access outcrops and produce cm-resolution 3D reconstructions of sections of cliff as large as 1 km 2 . Systematic mapping of intrusions captured in these models then allows us to gain insight into the dynamics of the Taburiente volcano before its collapse, and test hypotheses about the effects of active and solidified intrusions in unstable volcanic systems. Preliminary results suggest that solidified intrusions form significant mechanical discontinuities in volcanic edifices, influencing both subsequent dyke propagation and flank stability.
Sam Thiele is a PhD student at Monash University (firstname.lastname@example.org), Australia, supervised by Sandy Cruden and Steven Micklethwaite. Despite the long commute, he has been able to undertake three extensive field campaigns on La Palma thanks to a Westpac Future Leader scholarship and on-site support from staff at Parque Nacional Caldera de Taburiente. His research focusses on developing drone mapping methods for geoscience applications and applying these to better understand the distribution and mechanical effects of intrusions within volcanic edifices. You can read more about the drone mapping tools Sam has developed in his recent paper at https://doi.org/10.5194/se-8-1241-2017.